What is CTCA?
A CT coronary angiogram or CTCA is a quick and painless scan used to evaluate the condition of your coronary arteries. This test is more advanced than a CAC Score that only detects a global build-up of calcium. A CTCA includes all the information of a CAC score but also identifies the degree of narrowing of the arteries caused by calcified or non-calcified plaque which are the known cause of heart attacks. Your doctor may recommend a CTCA to assist with early detection of heart disease, especially if you are experiencing symptoms such as chest pain, breathlessness, excessive sweating, irregular heartbeat, or dizziness.
What should I expect?
- The test takes approximately 45 minutes to complete
- Before your CT scan, your blood pressure and heart rate will be monitored and a cannula will be inserted into a vein in your arm for the delivery of the “contrast dye”
- Next you will be asked to undress to the waist (a gown is provided for you to wear) and lie on a bed that slides under the scanning machine
- To capture the best images possible, you may need to take medication to slow and stabilise your heart rate. This medication may be tablets prescribed by your doctor and taken before your appointment or an intravenous medication administered during your appointment
- Immediately prior to the scan there will be a spray of nitrate under your tongue which helps dilate the coronary blood vessels
- The contrast dye will be injected into your vein via the cannula to highlight any blockages on your scan images. This injection can cause a hot flush through the body or a metallic taste in the mouth but only lasts a few seconds
How should I prepare?
Do not take any stimulants such as tea, coffee, soft drinks or energy drinks for 12 hours before your test
Do not eat anything in the 2 hours before your scan
Drink plenty of water to ensure you stay hydrated
Do not wear talc, body lotions or neck chains
Wear a shirt or blouse so you may easily undress to the waist
You should consult your doctor prior to the test as they can advise if you should cease any of your regular medications during the test that may interfere with the results
What happens next?
After the test you will be monitored for 15 to 30 minutes and the cannula removed before you can go home. The results will be reviewed by a specialist cardiologist and a full report will be sent to your referring doctor who will be able to advise you if a follow-up course of action is required.
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